First Anniversary of my “Sabbatical” Year

IMG_7166A year ago today, I took off from Toronto, Canada, and started my so-called sabbatical year. It has been a very rewarding experience full of ups and downs, and I am grateful for everyone of you who has motivated me along the way. This trip would not have been possible without your support.

I used to question myself if I was wasting time but not anymore. My experiences living abroad has enriched my perspectives and understandings of the world. I have learned a lot more about myself and have become much happier about who I am. The people I met have also shown me how to be a better being.

 

In numbers, I have:
Taken 28 long and short bus trips;
Taken 26 long and short train rides;
Taken 18 legs of flight;
Taken 12 Blablacar trips;
Taken 4 ferry rides;
Stayed in 23 Airbnb;
Couchsurfed 12 times;
Joined 6 free and paid tours;
Finished 19 freelance projects.

This is not the end yet… Is it bad if I am already thinking about the next sabbatical year when this first one hasn’t finished? =P

P.S. The photo was taken at Les Galeries de la Tour in Lyon after the staff heard that it was my first anniversary traveling. The amazing sculptures are artworks by Armenian artist, Ashot Gevorgyan.

 

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A Little Unwitting in Marrakech

IMG_5917This photo was taken at around 1:15 a.m. when we were waiting for pizza on the way home from a hookah lounge in Marrakech. Apparently we were having fun. Little did I know that our (my?) safety was at risk. My Couchsurfing host, Noureddine, got grounded by his parents when we got home by 2 a.m. We thought his parents got mad because it was late, but later Nour told me that it was because he sent his younger brother to bring me home with his motorbike, while Nour should of looked for a taxi instead. He added that in his neighborhood (3 miles away from the city center), there are gangsters who keep an eye on who is coming in and out and foreigners are highly targeted. Later on, I found out that they always have someone at home for safety sake.

So, thank god we/I didn’t get robbed, and thanks to Nour’s parents for their concerns. I feel bad about spending three days at theirs; it must have added stress to his parents…

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Unintended Bargaining in Marrakech

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One evening in Marrakech, I was looking for pocket tissue and I found a woman street seller. I pointed at the entire pack to indicate that I wanted to buy the whole pack, but the lady kept telling me that it was 2 dirham each (USD$0.20). Two other vendors nearby saw us and came to help. They translated for us and told me that the 15+3 pack costed “two twenty dirham bills.” Since 18 x 2 = 36, I gave a face that was like “you are crazy” and turned away. The guys immediately said “TWENTY! TWENTY!” I hesitated because the lady was apparently whining, but the guys assured me that it’d be twenty and handed me the whole pack. So, I took it, gave one of the guys twenty dirhams and walked away quickly. I could hear the man and the lady arguing behind me…

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Kettle

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If it was not because my friend in Barcelona bragged about owning an electronic kettle, I wouldn’t have realized that it is not a common home appliance in an average Spanish household. (Right off the top of my head, I can’t think of any Chinese household without one…)

Curious, I asked my friends what’s its name in Spanish or how to ask for it at the store. They thought for a second and told me there is no name XD You can call it a “caldera,” like boiler, or just “kettle” (with Spanish accent =P)

Thinking back, I have stayed and visited at least 28 Spanish homes, and I have only encountered an electronic kettle THREE times. Two of them are from friends who learned about it when they lived abroad, and they like drinking tea more than coffee.

Certainly an electronic kettle is very convenient for tea making, but I don’t mind boiling water with a saucepan on the stovetop. Just don’t microwave water to make tea. Please.

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Plaza del Pilar at Night

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Aragon Pavilion

 

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Zaragoza Expo

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